Shaun Morgan’s 5th Annual Rise Above Fest, Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion, Bangor, Maine, July 22nd and 23rd 2017

Editor’s Note: This year Ann and I decided to mix things up a bit. We decided to have a guest reviewer cover this year’s Rise Above Fest. We felt you the readers deserved to get a review directly from a fan’s perspective, AKA – THE PIT. Welcome Anneka Ortiz! -Chris

I have been to three Rise Above Fests and something about this year’s show was absolutely striking. For anyone who hasn’t been acquainted with Rise Above Fest, it was founded in 2012 by Seether’s lead singer, Shaun Morgan, and raises awareness for suicide prevention and mental illness. The name of the event evolved from Seether’s song “Rise Above This.” Shaun Morgan dedicates this event to his brother, whom he lost to suicide, and to anyone who has lost a friend or family member to suicide as well.

Rise above Fest also collaborates with SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) which provides public awareness and resources for people with mental illness and depression. According to SAVE.org, the unfortunate statistics show that:

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America for both men and women of all ages

with 1 death by suicide every 13 minutes.

Please, reach out for help if you are struggling with mental illness and/or depression and contemplating suicide,

or if you know someone who is.

The national suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Never hesitate to call for yourself or for someone else because you are loved and you matter.

As all of you know, a deplorable event took place on July 20th, 2017; just 4 days ago and 2 days before Rise Above Fest. Legendary Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, passed away due to suicide. So many people have been affected by his death. So many artists of all genres of music are taken away by this, including all of the fans that look up to Chester. A few months prior, Chris Cornell, lead singer of SoundGarden and Audioslave, committed suicide on May 18th, 2017. During that time as well so many people were affected by his death, including close family members and other musicians who had looked up to him, especially Chester Bennington.

During The Rise Above Fest there was a moment of silence for Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, and all other individuals affected by suicide. Not a single noise from the thousands of people that were attending was heard. Last but not least, we all reminded each other to be as loud as we possibly could and to rock as hard as we possibly could for the ones who can’t anymore.

Rest in Peace:
Chester Bennington- March 20th, 1976 – July 20th, 2017
Chris Cornell – July 20th, 1964 – May 18th, 2017.

Before I get to how exceptionally badass all of the bands were at Rise Above Fest this year, I want to thank Bangor Fire and Rescue, the men and women of our finest law enforcement – the Bangor Police Department, as well as the control team for making sure absolutely everyone had a fun, safe time rocking out and enjoying all of our favorite bands. And thank you also for doing what you do every day and night to keep the wonderful city of Bangor safe.

Dragonforce– Known for their long, headbanging hair, Dragonforce set the bar high when it comes to power metal. Lead singer, Marc Hudson, knows how to put on a crazy show and really got the crowd jumping and screaming to each song they performed.

Falling in Reverse– These guys know how to get on their fans’ level when they are performing. The energy that they put into their music is insane. Clear, passionate, post- hardcore music. I remember at one point in the middle of a song, drummer Ryan Seaman lost a snare drum. That goes to show you how hard he was playing. One song that stood out to me was “Alone” – a song written for suicide. There was a lot of emotion written in those lyrics.

Crobot– They definitely know how to come out on stage and start a show. The amount a crazy hyper energy they fed the audience was jaw-dropping. The lead singer, Brandon Yeagley, has a super impressive voice with rocking high notes that have no limits. The song “Nowhere to Hide” was definitely their hit of the show. At one point during the song, Yeagley jumped up onto lead guitarist Chris Bishop’s, shoulders while he was still playing the guitar and sang the rest of the song. That just gives you an idea of how much energy he really has.

Red Sun Rising– The band opened up with one of their popular hits, “Emotionless,” and got the crowd’s attention immediately. Mike Protich, lead singer, definitely had the goal of making sure his fans came and got what they deserved. They closed with another popular song, “The Other Side.”

Skillet– The first thing I noticed about Skillet was the crowd. When the main stage was ready for them to come out and perform, the crowd immediately drew forward with many people running to get at the front of The Pit. Skillet was definitely one of the most popular bands played during the first day. I noticed that when people were recording videos of the performance, all of their camera screens were zoomed onto the drummer, Jen Ledger. No matter what song was played that day, she knew how to rock out on her drums, and she definitely went crazy. With her light purple hair she definitely brought the sexiness out of those drums. Korey Cooper, guitarist, was amazing. She has this sexy hardcore vibe about her, and she had so much energy. The band as a whole were phenomenal.

Seether– They came out and did what they do every year at Rise Above Fest – put on a fantastic performance. So much energy and emotion was put into all of this. Shaun Morgan, lead singer, was definitely thankful and was feeling the love for everyone who came out to his two day festival. They played all of the songs the fans wanted to hear. They play “Country Song” every year and it always gets everyone going. Then, of course, they played “Rise Above This,” the festival’s namesake. An all-around fantastic performance, as expected.

Stone Sour– I’m going to get right to the point with this one. Corey Taylor, lead singer, performed a jaw- dropping performance. His hardcore heavy metal voice is so pure. Whether he’s performing metal music, or a slower song, his voice is just as good. Corey was very involved with the crowd, getting everyone to yell loud and making fans go crazy. Corey brought his guitar out on stage and announced that he was going to play “Through Glass,” a song from one of his first albums, and it really brought people, including himself, back to the early days. This was awesome.

Korn– As I’m writing this, I’m still speechless. I’ve never once experienced a performance quite like this. I’ve always been the girl to go to heavy metal shows, but there is something about Korn that you’ll never experience anywhere else, I promise. The performance is so unique, and that’s what I like the most, or example when Jonathan Davis, lead singer, was wearing Monster energy drink sweatbands on his wrist with one of his kilts and just some shirt from god knows where. His fashion is part of what makes him interesting, and that’s what I mean about unique. When he brought out the bagpipes for “Shoots and Ladders,” everyone automatically knew what was coming, and everyone was just absolutely insane. I just remember standing in the middle of the thousands of fans that were jumping up and down and screaming and just taking it all in. The different pitches and noises that are part of his vocals sound almost like a weird beat box. This was freaking awesome to hear him do so well, just like what you’d hear in one of his recorded songs. Last but not least of course, was the one and only song “Freak on a Leash.” Everyone was waiting for this song. I mean everyone. You think it was insane in the beginning? Everyone was just overwhelmed, but it was good. Nope, it was great. I’ll never forget that my jaw was still dropped when the performance ended and I had dropped all of my notes, which I luckily found a few moments later…

Time for bed, end of Day 1

Yawn, Day 2 begins right where we left off, back IN THE PIT!

Starset– The first thing that I notices was the variety of instruments that this band uses in their show, which is awesome. Along with the guitar, drums and bass, there was a cello and a violin. Siobhán Cronin, on violin, did an amazing job rocking out while playing the violin. It was different, almost having an apocalyptic vibe when joined by Jonathan Kampfe on cello. Along with the instruments, the costumes for Starset were super creative. Their song “My Demons” is one of their most popular songs. When they started playing that song, fans didn’t hesitate to start yelling and screaming the lyrics with them. Such an awesome show.

All That Remains– Philip Labonte, lead singer, came right out and instantly got the crowd going. He sang and he yelled hard, including some pretty sick breakdowns. He had so much energy and kept it up through the whole performance with the help of his fans who were yelling with him. At the end of his set he sang “What If I Was Nothing” and dedicated it to Chester Bennington, the late lead singer of Linkin Park.

Pop Evil- Everyone was excited to hear these guys on day two, and they played some of their most popular songs including “Torn to Pieces” and “Take it All.” They put on a great show with Haley Kramer, drummer, giving it her all on the drums. Leigh Kakaty, lead singer, also got really involved with the crowd by jumping down to the photo pit in the middle of the crowd to touch the hands of the fans who love him most. It was great to see him get to his fans’ level and to give they what they want.

Theory of a Deadman– The band as a whole was absolutely amazing and everything I could have ever imagined seeing them perform for the first time. The energy was spectacular. Tyler Connolly, lead singer, mentioned that he had one song for the ladies in particular, and I bet every girl, including me, thought it was going to be the song “Bad Girlfriend,” one of his most popular songs. But no. It was “Bitch Came Back.” Everyone’s reaction was priceless. Just listen to it, and you’ll see why. But hey, the girls got down and started singing anyways. And then, last but not least, of course they ended up playing “Bad Girlfriend” because, like I said, that song is one of their most popular hits – and one of my favorite songs by them. They were freaking awesome.

HaleStorm– My first thought about Halestorm was that lead singer, Lzzy Hale’s voice has no limits. That girl can scream for miles and just keep going higher and higher. She’s got a rasping, rocking tone which, in my opinion, is just super sexy. No doubt. She rocks at the electric guitar, including the double neck electric guitar on “I Am the Fire.” When Lzzy climbed up the steps in front of the drums, we all noticed she was wearing these sexy red heels, and she dedicated those heels to a song called “Apocalyptic.” Lzzy Hale is known for her hardcore loud music, but she proved that she can slow it down a bit, too. Playing the piano, Hale sang a touching and emotional version of “Dear Daughter and The Rose.” She sang it with such emotion and such passion that it deeply moved everyone who was listening. It was simply beautiful.

Arejay Hale, drummer, aka Lzzy’s brother, is a bit crazy himself. He put on a fantastic performance on the drums, and even had a few solos here and there. Of course he brought out the big sticks and pounded the drums with those. He led the crowd in a medley of Guns N’Roses’ “Paradise City,” AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” and aptly ended with Linkin Park’s “In the End,” dedicated to Chester Bennington.

ShineDown– Brent Smith, lead singer, had a goal to be the loudest of the loudest. He involved the crowd in one of his first songs of the night. I just remember it being so loud but so much fun – even though this one person actually yelled as loud as he could right in my ear. At that point I had pretty much lost my hearing for the night anyways, so it was totally fine. One song that I always listened to and always will is “Simple Man,” made famous by Lynyrd Skynyrd. No matter what I’m doing or where I am, if that song is on I’m going to sing it. That night when they performed “Simple Man,” I was just in awe, as was everyone else. That song always touches someone, some differently than others, but it has a huge impact. People were closing their eyes and just singing their hearts out as Brent Smith performed that song.

BOOM! And just like that the 5th Annual Rise Above Fest came to a close. Until next year…